Sebastian Vettel admits the gap between Ferrari and Mercedes in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix shows his team how much work there is to do ahead of the 2018 season.
Having won the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel could only qualify third at the Yas Marina Circuit, half a second adrift of Valtteri Bottas. Although he was confident of being closer in the race, Vettel was unable to challenge the Mercedes pair as he ended up finishing 20 seconds behind race winner Bottas in the final podium position and he believes it is a fair reflection of the respective pace of the two teams.
“Well it’s a race,” Vettel said. “We took it all very serious, so I think it’s serious. I think we had a strong year overall – obviously we didn’t win. Neither the drivers’ nor the constructors’, so we can’t be happy as it’s generally what we set out to achieve. Overall, we were not quick enough, as simple as that.
“In the end you can break it down to a lot of details and this and that. Overall the package wasn’t good enough, but I think the positives remain, outweigh the disappointments we had here and there over the year.
“You must not forget where we’ve been 12 months ago and the incredible achievement that’s come together over the winter to set up this year and throughout the season to keep improving the car, the engine; so a lot of work, but overall we saw today we got a fair beating and couldn’t touch them in quali and in the race. Obviously there’s lots for us to do better.”
Reflecting on where Mercedes had the biggest advantage, Vettel says both Bottas and Lewis Hamilton had stronger pace in the majority of sectors.
“Well the first two laps were pretty good. I was able to follow and I thought, ‘OK, I can stay with them,’ but it became apparent in particular I would say the beginning of the second sector, the section around [Turns] 5, 6, 7 – I think 5 and 6 they were faster than us all weekend.
“The straights, you benefit from the tow even if you’re a bit further back, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that they gain all the time in the straights. In the last sector they were very strong. Even if Lewis had to follow Valtteri, closer than I was to Lewis, they were still faster. I think that’s where it got away.
“I think in the final stint on the supersoft, overall we were more competitive and I felt happy with the car all around. I think I have hovered in terms of lap time: it was pretty much the same until the end of that first stint for us, but those two in front were just able to go faster with the fuel going down – it was something I couldn’t do.”